Day Three: Loving the Forgotten
Imagine that your life fell apart, what would you do? If you couldn’t care for yourself, who would care for you?
Chances are, most if not all of us reading this blog can name someone that we could count on, someone we could turn to if the bottom were to drop out. We would not be forced to live on the street. In many places, however, this is the reality many people face (I am confident that many people like this exist in Lincoln too). The poor around the world find themselves in a poverty that is financial but it is also a poverty of resources – they don’t have the network that so many of us have to lean on, that serves as a safety net. That is why many of those living in poverty are one step away from the street, from destitution.
We met a group of people like this today when we set visited a State-run home for women. Unfortunately the government forbids photos or video be taken but we can describe what we saw.
The women in this home are not there by choice. In Mexico, family bonds are strong and most families would care for the less fortunate among them. These women, however, were abandoned by their families. No one wanted to bare their burden and so they were “collected” and “placed” in this home where they sleep in dormitories and sit around the rest of their time. They feel like forgotten people, dishonored people, cast aside people.
Many of them are very old, many have severe mental disabilities, some have significant physical limitations – but each was made by God and has inherent value.
So, what do you do with people like this when there are significant barriers that keep you from deep conversation or from remedying the situation? Well – here’s what Craig encouraged us to do:
- Look them in the eye. Paying attention to someone is an act of love and to these overlooked women, we just wanted them to know they are seen.
- Hug them and hold their hands. As abandoned women, most of those around them have withdrawn – we imagined Jesus would instead draw near to them.
- Paint their nails or apply lotion to their dry hands.
- Listen to them.
And so this is what we did. Each of us had to wrestle with the fact that today we served in a context that we do not have power to change – that is not easy for go-getters from Nebraska. So many situations we find ourselves in don’t have simple solutions, but the complexity doesn’t mean we do nothing! We do what we can and trust that God will take our small acts of love, made in faith, and he will bring about any fruit from them that he wishes.
Thanks for your continued prayers. Tomorrow we will once again serve the homeless – who knows what God will have us encounter tomorrow.